Ex-wife of mining tycoon who lost Hampstead home in bitter divorce battle faces eviction in row over £2m payout
PUBLISHED: 10:51 11 November 2014 | UPDATED: 10:51 11 November 2014
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An ex-wife says she is facing homelessness, despite being hugely wealthy on paper, because her ex-husband has failed to honour a £2 million divorce payout.
Shelley Mann, 47, claims her mining tycoon husband, David, agreed to “maintain” her “for life”.
But since their marriage failed and he left the £1.8m family home in Hampstead in 1999, the mum-of-two says his reluctance to pay up has caused her a dramatic fall from grace.
She is now threatened with life on the street as court proceedings are underway to evict her and her two daughters from their Belgravia home over £50,000 in rent arrears.
Her 49-year-old ex-husband says he is simply unable to help - as he is in hospital battling cancer and has “run out of money”.
Senior family judge, Lord Justice MacFarlane, heard that Mrs Mann’s comfortable home life was shattered when she and her husband, a businessman who specialises in brokering mining deals, separated in 1997, then divorced two years later.
She was initially handed the matrimonial home in Ferncroft Avenue, Hampstead, and “solid” maintenance payments for her and their two children.
But her barrister, Rex Howling, said things began to go seriously wrong when her husband “failed” to keep up mortgage payments on the house.
Mrs Mann says that forced her to sell her home in 2004 - for £1m less than it is worth today.
She was unable to buy a new house as the legal costs of her dispute with her ex-husband mounted and she moved into a rented home with her daughters, initially in Hampstead. They later moved to a “cheaper” £6,000-a-month mews house in Belgravia, with Mr Mann footing the bill.
After a further decade of bitter wrangling over money, Mrs Mann says her ex still owes her £2m.
Mr Howling told the judge that Mrs Mann’s troubles escalated when, in October last year, her ex stopped paying the rent on her home in Belgravia.
As a result she has run up £50,000 in rent arrears and Mrs Mann and her daughters, aged 20 and 21, are facing eviction. Because they are very unlikely to qualify for council assistance, they are facing life without a roof over their head, the Court of Appeal heard.
“He is giving her money on a drip feed basis, preventing her from renting anywhere else,” said Mr Howling. “She is caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. The husband has got access to money - it is a matter of how he wants to apply it.”
Justin Warshaw, for Mr Mann, said in his defence, that he is in poor health and suffering financial difficulty himself.
He stopped paying his ex-wife’s rent because he had “simply run out of money,” the barrister said, adding: “My client is in a similarly parlous position to his former wife.”
Mr Mann is now living in a housing association flat and suffering from cancer, for which he cannot afford proper treatment.
Lord Justice MacFarlane expressed dismay at the havoc being wrought on the family.
He said: “There is clearly a pressing need to try to save the housing of Mrs Mann and her daughters, because of the lack of options open to them”.
Clearing the way for Mrs Mann to take debt enforcement action against her ex, he added: “What she needs is cash at the moment.”
Her landlord’s possession hearing is due to take place within days.